7-Eleven stores prepped to offer 24-hour,
The neighborhood 7-Eleven,
home to the Coca-Cola slurpee, now plans to house one-stop
banking centers for those who don't have bank accounts.
Southland Corp., owner of the store
chain, has set up "financial service centers" in half a dozen 7-Eleven
stores in Austin, Texas. Touted as souped-up ATMs, the centers will
reach out to the "unbanked" with initial services of check cashing,
money orders, money transmissions through Western Union, prepaid
phone cards and basic cash withdrawals. Bill payments are a few
months down the road.
"For those who don't have a banking
relationship, the convenience of the store's hours may help to save
them time and money," said Richard Updyke, Southland's manager of
By the end of the April, 37 centers
will be in place at stores across the Austin area. Southland has
used Austin as a test site for its remodeled stores, fresh food
and commissary programs in the past and believes the city has a
solid, diverse population and a strong economy.
"It sort of mirrors the population
of what the rest of the country looks like," said Margaret Chabris,
Southland's public relations manager.
plan works to stop fraud
Attempts to cash a stolen check may be stopped cold due to stringent
Customers who plan to use the center,
must first complete a "risk rate" to obtain a personal identification
number, have their picture taken, place their signature on file
and have their check verified by the company issuing it.
The centers are also equipped with
video conferencing software that connects the customers to service
"Typically, when you go to cash
a check you're interacting with someone through a bulletproof glass.
With this center, you don't need to interact with someone to make
a transaction but if you want to, there is a feature in place where
you can talk with a live person." Updyke said.
"The verification process will
be ongoing and the center will automatically reject any check" that
does not meet all the personal criteria previously entered, he added.
Dallas-based Southland is working
with NCR Corp., a leading ATM supplier,
Western Union Financial Services and Affiliated Computer Services,
a Dallas processor and ATM network servicer.
Since last month, the centers have
served Austin residents. A six-month test period will help to track
traffic volume, equipment reliability and the type of customers
who use the centers through exit interviews.
NCR and 7-Eleven have plans for additional applicationssuch
as branch banking, vehicle registration, credit reports, smart cards,
airline tickets, loans and insurance, issuance of postage stamps
and possibly even online shopping.
"Probably the single most reason
why we envisioned this as an opportunity was the efficiencies that
can be gained through the amount of services that can be offered
in the future," Updyke said.
Mark McCall, a NCR spokesman,
agreed with the center's infinite possibilities.
"One of the nice features of the
NCR product is we offer a solution that is up-gradeable. This is
not the standard [ATM] box. We don't have a standard solution--everything
is unique to each customer," McCall said.
With 90 percent of NCR's ATMs positioned
in banks, the company has formed relationships with such retailers
"The move has been to place more
ATMs in retail outlets and the centers are a way to build on that
existing relationship," McCall said.
7-Eleven already houses 4,600 cash
dispensers and automatic teller machines. The 5,400-store retail
network is poised to take the centers nationwide if the test period
And while Southland's target is
those who don't have banking accounts, Chabris said their pre-test
research indicated that people with checking account will use the
center for the convenience.
-- Posted: March 10, 1998